SEK Education Group has a long history in implementing intelligence development schemes and attention to gifted and talented students.
The current SEK Education Group comprehensive talent development model considers different theories from the field of neurology and cognitive psychology, since the very definition of intelligence has evolved over the years.
Something that remains unchanged is the importance of education in the development of biological and psychological potential. Regardless of the abilities and talents that each person has, the different SEK Education Group schemes, from early childhood education to university, focus on the all-round development of students.
In short, our goal is for each of our students to develop their abilities and talents to the fullest.
The idea that there are people with one or more superior abilities is almost as old as humanity, since homo sapiens appears and acquires the ability to communicate and leave testimony of this, among other elements, through cave paintings.
If we start from the “diffused concept” of what intelligence is, on the Internet we find around 65 million definitions, most of them are not unanimous or share. The Spanish Royal Academy of Language (RAE) defines it as:
The capacity for understanding. Problem solving capacity. The meaning of a proposition, saying or an expression. Skill, dexterity and experience, dealings or secret correspondence between two or more persons or nations with each other. Purely spiritual substance…and an important expansion of each of these concepts…
If we restrict the term to Intellectual Capacity, there is a greater consensus and the RAE also tells us:
Mental development of an individual in each period of their life. Measured by IQ, which is evaluable through different specialised and standardised tests.
Mental age is a much more technical and neuropsychological term coined from the measurements made with the test created by psychologists Alfred Binet and Theodore Simón and which determined the level of a person in relation to the population group to which they statistically belong.
In this way, chronological age begins to be compared with mental age and the term Intellectual Quotient was created:
Interpretation of IQ results
PERCENTILES (PC) Range: 1-100; Average 50
Over time, research and studies have shown that the concept of higher capacity is much broader (Pérez and Domínguez, 2006) and intelligence has many more components than IQ, so we could say, for example, that different types of talents were soon recognised.
Talent in general refers to superior performance in one or more specific areas, both curricular and in other areas (sports, music, arts, leadership, social, etc.), and may show different, average or even low performance in other areas. We can also talk about simple talent, which refers to subjects who perform highly in one aptitude or ability, while multiple talents do so in two or more aptitudes or abilities.
One of the most common and of course non-exhaustive classifications of talent is the following:
This brief classification of talent is the one in which there is the greatest agreement and, on the other hand, has greater usefulness in the diagnosis and educational orientation, however there are more recent classifications that include cinematographic talents, entrepreneurial talent, technological talents, influencers, etc.
In conclusion, based on these definitions, differences can be established between the different intellectual abilities, whether due to superior performance in some skill, in several, or in all, in the initial development of the skill, and above all, in comparison with their peers.
But neither can we ignore the fact that more and more authors are moving away from a monolithic conception of talent and giftedness, giving us two possible alternatives, either continuing with the traditional ideas of intelligence and how it should be measured, or looking for a new way of interpreting and developing what we understand by this construct, and they have moved towards the latter (Pérez and Muñoz, 2020).
Although it is an important concept with numerous authors, we take as an example two of the most recognised, H. Gardner and R. Sternberg.
Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences presented in numerous works such as Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences (1983), Intelligence reframed multiple intelligences for the 21-st century (1999) have contributed, along with others, to changing traditional views on human intelligence that are excessively focused on IQ, opening new spaces for psychoeducational intervention, with the hope of offering quality education and, above all, of improving children’s cognitive functioning.
Gardner maintains that the foundation or basis of intelligence is twofold, on the one hand, biological and, on the other, cultural. According to neurological research, different types of learning crystallise in synaptic connections in different parts of the brain, so that damage to Broca’s area results in the loss of the ability for verbal communication but does not eliminate syntactic understanding. But culture also plays an important role in the development of intelligence. In fact, all societies value different kinds of intelligence. In this way, while certain intelligences can be developed at a high level in certain people from one culture, those same intelligences may not be as developed in individuals from another culture.
The most outstanding and significant contribution of this theory for education is to have highlighted interindividual variability. Individual differences are theoretically admitted. But in reality few care and support them. Gardner’s merit in admitting and consecrating this variability is having remembered that there are many ways to learn, and to be “intelligent,” at least as many as there are human “intelligences.” And, for this reason, there must be many different ways of teaching. Since there are so many different ways of learning and teaching, the possibility of improving intellectual development is evidently multiplied.
The other text that in our opinion has changed the conceptions of intelligence was Beyond IQ, published for the first time in 1985. This book presents a theory of human intelligence that goes beyond IQ in its conceptualisation and its implications for evaluation. The “triarchic” theory has three parts. The first addresses the relationships between intelligence and experience; the second, the relationships between intelligence and the external world and the third, the relationships between intelligence and the internal world of the individual. Includes testing and research on the three parts of intelligence including the distinction between ‘practical’ and ‘academic’ intelligence.
In fact, a differential contribution is that it gives great importance to “practical” intelligence and “tacit” thinking as factors that correlate with professional and life success, compared to classical and academic intelligence models. PIFs were therefore created (Sternberg, Kaufman and Grigorenko, 2011) and became a well-known intelligence development school in schools. Later, in his very extensive bibliography, other concepts of intelligence such as “successful” appear (Sternberg, 1985; and the success of “brilliant minds” is even questioned in books such as: Why smart people can be so stupid. (Sternberg 2002).
Sternberg states that there is a big difference between academic or psychometric intelligence as measured by IQ tests and success and ability to effectively use three interrelated types of thinking (analytical, creative and practical). Perhaps it is the ability to use these three types of thinking/talents that allows for outstanding achievements. People with successful intelligence feel highly motivated, persevere in achieving their goals, tend to be independent, and visualise how to achieve their goals. Sternberg’s work has made important contributions to the concept of giftedness.
Given all the above, it is evident that education must go “beyond IQ” and seek comprehensive human development, starting from different capacities/talents.
Comprehensive talent development is based on three main principles:
Comprehensive development “is a construct” with many facets, talents or capacities that education must “discover” and enhance. Without forgetting that it is based on intelligence “as a changing and entropic construct, therefore the training system we propose must be very flexible and adaptive.”
Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.
Gardner, H. (1999). Intelligence reframed multiple intelligences for the 21-st century. New York: Basic Books.
Gardner, H. (1995). Inteligencias Múltiples. La teoría en la práctica. Barcelona: Paidós
Gardner, H. (2011). Verdad, Belleza y Bondad reformuladas. Barcelona: Paidós.
Pérez, L. y Muñoz, P. (2020). Evaluación e intervención en alta capacidad. FOCAD para la división de Psicología Educativa. Consejo General de la Psicología de España. https://www.focad.es/index.asp#divisiones
Pérez, L. y Domínguez, P. (2006). El concepto de superdotación como base de las experiencias y propuestas de intervención educativa. En L. Pérez. Alumnos con capacidad superior. Experiencias de Intervención Educativa (pp.17-45). Madrid: Síntesis
Sternberg, R. y Davidson, J. E. (1990). Cognitive Development in the Gifted and Talented. In F.D. Horowitz y M. O´Brien. (Eds.) The Gifted and Talented. Development Perspectives( pp.99-123): Washington. APA.
Sternberg, R. (1985). Beyond IQ. A triarchic theory of human intelligence. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Sternberg, R. (2002). Why smart people can be so stupid. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Sternberg, R. J. y Grigorenko, E. L. (2000). Teaching for successful intelligence. Arlington. Heights, IL: Skylight Training and Publishing Inc. Sternberg, R., Kaufman J. y Grigorenko, E.L. (2011). Inteligencia Aplicada. Madrid. TEA:Ediciones.
It is inevitable that social groups establish beliefs, or what we could also call “implicit theories” about what people or certain groups are, perhaps the first studies on certain subjects with exceptional abilities or talents contributed greatly to creating an image which, when transferred to broader groups of the population, are not met.
Many implicit theories, clichés or false beliefs about highly gifted or talented people have emerged and it appears that subsequent scientific studies have not managed to change these social beliefs.
We have selected those that remain and that, so to speak, clearly “depart” from reality.
1. IQ is the best identifying criterion.
If we consider that giftedness is influenced by numerous contextual and emotional learning factors, etc. Obviously, IQ is one more factor in identifying needs, but not the only one nor the most valuable.
2.Giftedness is an innate and stable and does not change throughout life.
There are very numerous studies that show that the level and type of a person’s giftedness will change throughout their development, influenced by the environment, learning, motivation, etc.
3. All gifted individuals have a high IQ.
Like the previous statement and considering that the measurement of IQ is mediated by all cognitive functioning, giftedness is not necessarily fully reflected in IQ. A very common example is that of perfectionistic or highly reflective individuals whose processing speed is “slow” and can be reflected in lowering overall IQ scores on timed tests.
4. Higher intelligence is closely related to adaptation disorders or, on the contrary, is a guarantee of psychological balance.
These are the two extremes of a mistaken idea. It is true that society has associated the idea of “genius and madness”, however an objective analysis of this data demonstrates the opposite, without being able to affirm that intelligence is a guarantee of balance, environments such as life in general can be determinants of the appearance of problems, especially when some of their characteristics are not taken into account in the development stages.
5. Gifted people have a poor social life.
Socialisation processes are mediated by numerous factors, internal and external. An environment that considers the motivations and characteristics of a subject will favour socialisation and otherwise will prevent this process from developing or not doing so properly.
6. Gifted people excel in all areas of the school curriculum. The reasons why a gifted person does not necessarily stand out in all areas of the school curriculum are varied. The first and most obvious is the existence of talents, for which they would stand out in certain areas for which they are most gifted. Another aspect to bear in mind are motivation and emotional factors that can lead some individuals to excel in some areas more than in others with the same gifts and, finally, this would require longitudinal studies since, at any given time, children and adolescents may or may not excel in an area of knowledge due purely to environmental factors.
7. Poorly performing students cannot be gifted.
Since the beginning of scientific studies that have related giftedness and performance, for example, those carried out by the American psychologist Lewis Terman around 1920, already verified that the percentage of students with low or mediocre academic performance was around 30%, a figure that today is repeated in numerous studies carried out on this subject.
8. Gifted students learn quickly and finish their tasks quickly.
In this topic, as in the previous ones, it is necessary to qualify aspects. Firstly, it is true that giftedness helps with faster learning, but depending on the intellectual profile, these learnings will occur differently depending on the areas of knowledge. A great mathematician may not have much facility for linguistic writing. This same fact determines the speed of execution, In addition, speed is not always the best indicator of the quality of the responses.
9. Gifted students are bored in class.
The issue of boredom has been raised, on many occasions, as the cause of academic failure in gifted students. There are some children who get “bored” and become disruptive. This is due to a loss of motivation that can occur in students with or without giftedness. There are many gifted students who simply adapt to the rhythm of the group and lower their potential and “don’t get bored” and others with an active mind are distracted by their imagination, for example drawing, reading or doing things without showing signs of boredom. But all of them need a motivating education, according to their ability.
10. Giftedness is associated with success in life.
Socially it is considered that intelligence is a determining factor of success in life, and obviously it is a favourable factor, but success is a conglomerate of intellectual profile, context, personal skills and opportunities. Authors as well known in the field of intelligence as Robert Sternberg have shown that personal and professional success correlates especially with practical intelligence and not so much with academic intelligence represented by IQ.
Adapted from: Winner, E. (996). Gifted Children: Myths and Realities: Basics Books
Without a doubt the main axis of talent development is not be complete without a clear response tackling educational needs. however, it is necessary to point out, as stated by numerous authors (Davis, 2009) that in essence the fundamental ideas of the proposals regarding educational intervention with gifted students have not changed, although what does offer us a different perspective are the methodologies, the teaching guidelines and the fields of intervention that are much broader.
As see above, the intervention proposals have a broad scope. In this brief overview we will focus on interventions, and more directly, in school or academic contexts.
Is a different education necessary?
Perhaps this is the question that has generated many debates on many occasions. Most educational structures are designed for statistically majority groups, although there is an increasing tendency to create differentiated structures that meet the specific needs of each student, demystifying the idea that giftedness always allows autonomous learning and that a specific intervention is not necessary, which has even said to be potentially harmful.
These false “beliefs” that we have already talked about have made the rates of poor performance/failure at school significant in this group of students.
Research has identified key points that should be considered when designing programs for gifted students (Van Tasssel Baska,2018):
A first measure, even before having a good differentiated diagnosis, is Curriculum Compaction, because it is necessary to save time, do without basic or reinforcement tasks, skip content that they already know or that they intuit and will quickly assimilate.
Renzulli and Reis (1997) point out that compacting the curriculum is a flexible, research-based, instructional technique that enables gifted students to skip what they already know and replace it with more challenging content. This technique is included in the different models of more specific intervention.
Basic practical proposals.
In the psychopedagogical intervention of gifted students there have been different lines, proposals and models of intervention, in principle we could distinguish two large groups of models (Pérez and Muñoz, 2020):
Flexibility as a proposal
This educational measure is classic and one of the oldest that is applied in the educational intervention of this type of students. Commonly known as “acceleration,” it consists of the student being able to advance one or more years to adapt their learning pace to their intellectual capacity. It is regulated by current legislation and like any other educational measure it can have advantages and some difficulties. We want to highlight that, compared to other intervention systems, there is less research on long-term results. However, Colangelo, Assouline and Gross (2004), among other authors, demonstrate the advantages of the measure.
In addition to this classic form, there are other acceleration proposals such as:
For its application, it is important to consider the necessary criteria to carry it out, which are those that will subsequently guarantee its success (Pérez and Beltrán, 2013).
International guidelines for determining the appropriateness of acceleration. (Adapted from: Feldhusen, J F, Proctor, T B and Black, K N, 1986).
|There must be a complete psychological evaluation of their intellectual functioning, academic levels and socio-emotional adjustment, carried out by specialists.
|In academics, the student must demonstrate levels above the average of the class they are going to join.
|Socially and emotionally, acceleration candidates must be free of adjustment problems. But it is important to be aware that some gifted students may have social or emotional difficulties caused by inappropriate placement in a lower-level year. In these cases, the problem can be solved with acceleration.
|The student must have an adequate physical level (medium), especially for sports activities.
|It is important that acceleration is not carried out due to pressure from parents, the student must want to advance in grade.
|It is convenient to apply specific scales for the assessment of the measure.
The legal regulation of this measure indicates the periods and how to carry it out. Usually, the starting point is the diagnosis of students’ intellectual and personal characteristics, their curricular level and the adaptations necessary for them to acquire the necessary knowledge of the year they are going into through a transitional curriculum (Reyero and Touron, 2003).
In this section you would find all those proposals that start from the specific grouping between gifted and talented students.
The broadest proposal would be specific centres. The existence of this type of centres has been widely debated in recent years for the sake of integration, elitism and possible social isolation. However, the research does not provide conclusive results in one sense or another and most European countries offer families the possibility of sending their children to school in this type of centres (Pérez and Losada, 2006).
In our country there are no such centres, except for those specific to high performance sports, and more recently, preferential centres for musical aptitudes.
Another type of grouping would be grouping in classrooms. There are countries like Germany where there are classrooms for gifted students who share play, sporting or artistic activities with the other students. In some autonomous regions there are high-performance classrooms for Bachillerato students to which students enrol voluntarily.
Leisure or cultural activity groups, associations or non-profit entities could also be considered groupings.
Enhancing the curriculum Although there are many advances and changes that have been made in education in general and that also affect the attention of gifted or talented students, it is no less true that the enrichment format, in its many and diverse varieties, is the most accepted and widespread in research and practice (Shavinina, 2009).
The principles of enrichment are considered to be personalised and individualised teaching understood in a broad sense in which it addresses the thought processes, skills and characteristics of the student in conjunction with the rest of the group.
Research has shown (Shavinina, 2009) the effectiveness of the system since it avoids possible imbalances and other types of risks by designing personalised educational proposals. But we cannot forget that it has a series of technical, economic and administrative requirements without which it loses effectiveness (Table 2).
Advantages and limitations of enrichment systems (Adapted from Pérez and Muñoz 2020).
|Requires specialisation of teachers
|Allows teachers to train and innovate in the classroom
|Involves organisational changes and adaptations
|Ensures enrichment for all students
|It involves a differentiated use of resources and technological means
|It is suitable for all types of talent and abilities
|If it is not considered, it can make the student feel “different” within the group, create social difficulties or and lead them to reject the system
|Avoid socialisation problems
|Agreement with the family is necessary on the quantity of homework and the assessment system
|Avoid conflicts and rivalries between siblings that other systems can produce
As we said at the beginning, within the general model of “enrichment” there are numerous varieties that are not easy to systematise, but we will start from some elements that are applicable to all formats, some of which we will see later (Pérez and Domínguez, 2006).
As we have already indicated, these are models that arise from the specific needs of highly capable students but that imply a differentiated approach for the entire classroom, as is the case with the SEK Education Group Intelligent Classroom and now the SEK Future Learning Model.
Extracurricular enrichment activities
Enrichment programmes constitute the fundamental group of intervention strategies for gifted students, along with the enrichment of the curriculum and the flexibility of the period of compulsory schooling (acceleration). The goal of enrichment programmes is to offer “exploratory activities, in-depth materials on a specific topic, materials for developing higher thinking skills and processes, independent projects chosen by students, and real products or services for the community.” The justification for its need comes from the idea that most social and educational structures are designed for the majority group of the population, and even in cases where through enrichments, accelerations, etc. gifted students are attended to, there are groups of people who, due to their characteristics, need special support for their educational integration, their harmonious personal development and good use of their potential; groups that, being very small and needing very specialised support, are difficult to make profitable in the ordinary context (Pérez, Domínguez and Díaz, 1998; Pérez, 2006, Pérez and Beltrán, 2011).
The emergence of extracurricular enrichment models aimed at gifted students (quite widespread in the US) has been in many countries, especially in Europe and America, of an official type promoted by official entities and ministries, and also promoted by associations and private entities. Its creation is relatively recent in the Spanish educational landscape, which is why there are few publications on the matter that can give an account of the background of this type of programmes (Seoane, 2020).
In Spain, SEK Education Group was the educational institution that promoted attention to gifted students, creating in 1993 the first Spanish scheme for these students called the Stellar Programme. Taught by a team of experts and specialists in Developmental and Educational Psychology and in the different areas included in the scheme. It aims to provide a specialised extracurricular intervention to contribute to the improvement and personal enrichment of gifted children and adolescents. The aim is to develop the student’s full potential alongside other children with similar capacities, without being separated from their peers. Over thousand students of ages between four and sixteen, have already taken part in this programme.
Currently, the Comprehensive Talent Development project covers very different educational interventions to promote any potential type of giftedness, and in addition to school interventions, it offers the following initiatives:
Early Childhood, Primary and Secondary. In-person
The Stellar Programme is the first Spanish educational and psychological scheme for gifted students and their families, running since the 1990-91 academic year. It is aimed at the enrichment and personal development of the most gifted students.
Directed by: Luz Pérez.
Coordinators: Samantha Claire Seoane Bauwens.
Year 5 and 6 Primary School and Secondary School. Online.
TALNET is an Enrichment and Personal Development programme that, through different types of activities, aims to enhance personal capacities in general, thinking strategies, self-control and emotional intelligence and self-awareness.
Directed by: Luz Pérez.
Coordinators: Ana Isabel Sánchez Cabana.
Bachillerato. In-person and online.
This programme is aimed at high achieving and gifted students, or those with specific interests, in Baccalaureate or the final year of Secondary School. The ADA programme aims to introduce our students to the various scientific fields of the university world, to open up vocational aspects of the sciences that can be developed through vocational training or bachelor’s degree.
Directed by: Luz Pérez.
Coordinators: Dra. Pilar Muñoz Deleito.
She has published several articles and participated in research projects related to: Cognitive Psychology. Teaching to Think. Giftedness Learning Strategies Women and STEMs
On-site and online available.
DACIU is the Spanish acronym for a “Programme of Excellence” aimed at the Development of High Intellectual Capacities at the University. Its objective is to enhance the talents and abilities of gifted university students. Through this proposal, universities, teachers and students come together in a project that is committed to the development of talent, in its broadest spectrum, through activities focused on research.
Information at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Directed by: Luz Pérez.
Coordinators: Luz Pérez y Pilar Muñoz.
Directed by: Luz Pérez.